I watched a whole bunch of 30 for 30's on Netflix the other day. Here's what I think of the one's I saw:
The Best That Never Was
Universities nationwide lobbied hard to sign highly touted football prospect Marcus Dupree in 1981, but his vast promise never materialized.
Good, not great. Just like its subject Marcus Dupree, this really could have been something. But, it took far too long to tell its story. We get it, Dupree was scouted heavily. We don't need to document every second of this part of his life ten times over. But the way we cut to the current day Philly's game was a very smart way to introduce the fact that Dupree hurt his leg. But it took way too long to get to the part where he actually hurt his leg.
The Marinovich Project
Todd Marinovich was molded by his father, Marv, to be an athlete from birth, and Marv believed his systems would sculpt Todd into a top quarterback.
A great story with a surprisingly great ending. The interviews with Todd and Marv really made this one great. It was a refreshingly well told story too, going into detail where it needed to without meandering too long.
Run Ricky Run
Peek under the helmet of enigmatic pro football player Ricky Williams with this documentary that tackles the talented running back's tumultuous career, including his failed drug tests, early retirement, stint playing in Canada and return to the NFL.
Ugh. Easily the worst of the bunch. Ricky is a very interesting subject and this completely mishandled the execution of his story. It really lacked focus and just felt very amateur. It really would have benefited from telling Ricky's story in chronological order, not skipping around everywhere and not really paying much attention to any one place in his life. The good thing about these movies is that you don't really need to know much about the sport to enjoy them, but this feels like one where you would have to know who Ricky Williams was and why he was such a big news story in order to get the story. Without the knowledge that he was an immensely talented football player, you'll probably be wondering why this guy merited a documentary.
The Band That Wouldn't Die
Orphaned in 1984 when their football team stole out of town without them, the Baltimore Colts Marching Band refused to acknowledge the obvious and remained together for the next 12 years until pro football finally returned to the city.
Don't be fooled by the title: this isn't the story of a marching band. This is the story of a city where football was king, and where football left in the middle of the night. It did a great job of telling the amazing story of Robert Irsay and the Colts move. It focuses on the band more as filler between when the Colts left and the Ravens came. After watching Cleveland 95, it was really interesting seeing the other side of the story.
Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?
In the 1980s, U.S. football fans were dazzled by the prospect of seeing pro football games virtually year-round, when the upstart United States Football League launched its inaugural springtime season. This documentary tells the story of the USFL.
Run Ricky Run tried to incorporate its filmmaker into the film with poor results, but Small Potatoes did a good job of making Michael Tollin an active, hilariously bitter part of the film. If the sight of Donald Trump makes you sick, this isn't for you. We get a lot of him, as well as some Burt Reynolds. The best part was seeing future NFL stars like Steve Young and Jim Kelly talk about the USFL like it was summer camp. I still want to see a football league in the spring, but with the failure of the USFL that seems unlikely. But this amazing story almost makes it worth it.
Four Days in October
Baseball's signature failure myth -- the Boston Red Sox's struggles against the New York Yankees -- ended in dramatic style when the Sox rallied from a three-game deficit to defeat their archrivals in the 2004 American League Championship Series.
This is the one I could connect with the best I'm a Yankees fan. My whole family is Yankee fans. I remember watching these games with my Mom. Even with all this said, I was still on the edge of my seat, even though the 2004 Red Sox are ancient history. Masterfully told with some great New England accents. I do wish that it at least acknowledged the World Series win, but I can see how that could be a conscious choice to just focus on these four days. And still, fuck the Red Sox.
Some conflicting social forces and dubious recruiting practices transformed The U -- the University of Miami's football team -- into a nationwide powerhouse in the 1980s and beyond, as their coach stirred up controversy by seeking out black players.
My favorite of the bunch. It is immensely detailed without falling into repetition of tedium. Great interviews with some current NFL stars and Uncle Luke from 2 Live Crew. I'm a Raiders fan for a reason. I love a football team that isn't just going to beat you, but embarrass you. They're going to make the league make new rules. They're going to be hated by the masses but loved by the fans more than anything else. It's a great story told without fault. Even if you hate football, you can still appreciate this story.
The Two Escobars
Discover the surprising parallels between star athlete Andres Escobar and international drug kingpin Pablo Escobar -- two renowned Colombians who loved the sport of soccer, achieved incredible levels of success and suffered brutally violent deaths.
I watched this just to test and see if you could enjoy these documentaries without enjoying the sport itself. It turns out, you can. I don't like soccer, but I absolutely loved this. I does something none of these other documentaries do, it doesn't tell a story, it creates a story. Its scope is immense and its ambition is commendable. Telling the story of Andres would be easy enough; a gentleman who was killed because he scored on his own goal. Tying it into Pablo and the drug war that tore Colombia apart is absolutely genius.